A Letter to My Sister
By Betsy Querna Cliff
I remember when you told us. “I think I’m an alcoholic,” your email said. You were in college, studying abroad and scared. I was thousands of miles from you, in graduate school. I had, that night, been working in the school’s computer lab, only a few weeks away from earning a master’s degree and enamored with a new boyfriend, new job and new life. With that email, I wondered if it was all about to come crashing down.
Six months ago I was absolutely insane. I thought I was able to manage my life and lost sight of my powerlessness over alcohol and other substances. I had been sober from March of 2011 until August of 2013. I did what I like to refer to as working the steps in reverse. The relapse of spirit and mind, before the substance is used.
Hopeless. Lost. Misery. Pain.
These are the feelings I was living in. I woke up every morning, disappointed that I did not die in my sleep. Every day I wished that a car would hit me or I would have a heart attack, or something would happen so that I no longer had to suffer on this earth. I woke up every day feeling like this. I did even attempt suicide a few times which, I thank God today, were unsuccessful. Living in this suffering, to me, was the worst consequence of my addiction/alcoholism.
Hello My Name Is…
My name is Cathy and I am an alcoholic in recovery. My sobriety date is October 6, 1996.
I sometimes hesitate to share my recovery story because I don’t think too many people are anxious to follow in my footsteps. I know I didn’t want to walk in these footsteps when God first presented the challenge to me.
God has plans for all of us that are bigger and crazier and more wonderful than we can even imagine.
You see, when I was about 5 years sober, I started to get the crazy idea that I should go to seminary and become a minister. I eventually gave in, got a Master’s Degree when I was 58 years old, and was ordained in the United Methodist Church.
The message I hope others hear from my story is that God has plans for all of us that are bigger and crazier and more wonderful than we can even imagine. Recovery makes so many things possible – things that could never happen when we are drinking.
I have grand-kids now who have never seen me drink; I was able to be present for my mother when she got sick and eventually died; friends and family can rely on me. These are all gifts of recovery – so many gifts for which I am grateful.